2022 World Cup Qualifiers groups before and after the second round qualifying matches...
The second round of the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup joint qualifiers concluded on June 15 and 12 teams from eight groups qualified to the third round of the World Cup qualifiers.
A total of 40 teams were divided into eights groups who competed for nearly two years (September 2019 to June 2021) and now top 12 teams - two from each group - will be playing in the third round. It has to be noted that DPR Korea, who were clubbed in Group 'H" withdrew themselves from the competition midway into the qualifiers.
The draw of the second round was held on July 17, 2019, in Kuala Lumpur and the teams were drawn on the basis of their seedings. Seedings were again based on the FIFA rankings of the team released on June 14, 2019.
India, who were ranked 101 in the world and 18th in Asia at that point in time, were placed in the Group E of the qualifiers where they finished third behind Qatar and Oman. The Blue Tigers ended their campaign with seven points registering four draws, three losses and one win from their eight matches. They scored six goals and conceded only seven.
While Igor Stimac's side managed to score only six goals in the qualifiers, there were 10 other teams who scored less than the Blue Tigers. Asian giants Japan, on the other hand, scored the most number of goals (46) followed by Iran and China.
Here we take a look at the group tables before the second round qualifiers began and after it concluded.
In Group A, China, who were ranked higher than Syria, finished below them in the second position. However, by the end of the qualifiers, Syria's ranking was just two spots below China.
In Group B, Kuwait who are ranked below Jordan and Chinese Taipei finished second in the group. Chinese Taipei, who were seeded third, finished last in the group. It must be noted that Kuwait's ranking went down due to a FIFA ban on them in 2015. They traditionally hovered around 100-120 in FIFA rankings.
In Group D, Yemen, who were ranked higher than Singapore, finished behind them, fifth in the group. In this case, Yemen and Singapore are separated by only 14 places at the end of the qualifiers.
In Group F, Kyrgyz Republic, who were ranked higher than Tajikistan, finished below them (third) and Myanmar (fifth) finished below Mongolia despite having a higher rank. At the end of the qualifiers, Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan are separated by 22 ranks. Mongolia and Myanmar were tied on points (6) but Mongolia had a better goal difference. Mongolia are 63 places behind Myanmar in the current standings.
In Group G, higher-ranked Thailand finished below Malaysia in the fourth position. Thailand are 47 places above Malaysia in the current rankings.
In most cases, the final group standings were the same as they were before the qualifiers started. On seven instances, we saw teams ranked higher than another team in their group finished a place below them in the final group standings.
Apart from Group G and F, the teams finished more or less as per their rankings. This shows that rankings are a good indicator of how groups might look like after the qualifiers.